Meet Alfredo – One of the Human Rights Defenders at Defenders’ Days 2016
At Defenders’ Days, Civil Rights Defenders gathers 160 human rights defenders, many of whom from the world’s most repressive regions. We offer a safe environment for human rights defenders to network, share experiences and to gain new knowledge. Alfredo Romero is one of this year’s participants. He is a Venezuelan Human Rights Lawyer with a mission to assist victims of State repression. He is also the founder of the Venezuelan Penal Forum. We have asked Alfredo a few questions.
Q: Alfredo, can you describe what you work with and why you became a human rights defender?
A: I got involved in Human Rights issues in 2002. The parents of an 18 years old boy came to me and asked for help after their son had been shot in the head and killed in a demonstration against the government. 18 other people was killed the same day. Families of eight of those also claimed for help. I formed a group with four lawyers and then and Non-governmental organisation. We then joined with other NGOs and began what is the Penal Forum today – the largest organised network of Human Rights Defenders in Venezuela. We have assisted more than 4.000 victims of arbitrary detention, torture, assassination and all kinds of state repression.
Q: Are there any achievements that you are particularly proud of?
A: I am proud of having formed and developed the Venezuelan Penal Forum which effectively assists victims of State repression and have succeeded in releasing political prisoners and detainees. We have been publicly recognised as the NGO winner of the 2014 Department of State Human Rights Defender Award for fighting for the release of more than 2,500 cases of political detainees.
Q: Can you tell us about any challenges or risks you face when conducting your work?
A: My family and I have been subjected to political prosecution as well as some members of the Penal Forum. After several threats and a series of stigmatising statements reportedly made by high-level State officials, a false investigation for conspiracy and terrorism, and an attempted murder, the Inter American Commission for Human Rights decided to request that precautionary measures should be adopted for me and a few others. One of our Lawyers, Marcelo Crovato, is a political prisoner and Tamara Suju, our communications manager, was beaten and threatened and forced to exile.
At Defenders’ Days, Civil Rights Defenders offers a safe and secure environment for human rights defenders who face violations such as arbitrary arrest, detention, harassment and threats when performing their important mission to protect people’s civil and political rights. Defenders’ Days is a forum where human rights defenders can meet and network with others who operate in a similar precarious environment. We have designed a conference programme with a wide variety of workshops and trainings to help human rights defenders in their important work.News.
Tags: Alfredo Romero, Civil Rights Defenders, Defenders' Days, human rights, Venezuela, and Venezuelan Penal Forum.